For many Americans glyphosate, the active ingredient in the herbicide Roundup, and its maker, the chemical company Monsanto, are examples of the worst aspects of American business. Despite concerns raised by scientists and health professionals about human carcinogenicity among those exposed to the compound, Monsanto (and now Bayer which recently bought the company) have denied any such possibility and initiated campaigns to discredit studies and professionals that warn about its danger to health.
This is on top of a widespread campaign more than a dozen years old now to sue farmers who save seed from their GMO crops. GMOs are genetically modified organisms or crops which have had specific chemical pathways introduced into their germ plasm. These pathways enable the crop to survive the absence of certain nutrients which are normally required for plant growth. This allows glyphosate, which is a chelater (a substance that binds to certain chemicals and makes them unavailable), to be sprayed throughout a field and kill anything which has not been specifically engineered with the pathways that enable them to survive the effects of the spray. GMOs enabled farmers to spray several times during the season to kill weeds, a trait which farmers valued and which made seed from the crops expensive. When they tried to save seeds from their GMO crops in order to avoid having to purchase them the next year, however, farmers were targeted by a hard-hitting Monsanto legal campaign to sue them for theft of Monsanto’s intellectual property, namely the engineered seeds. Many farmers lost their farms as a result of judgments against them for such seed-saving.
Perhaps even worse were the anti-science efforts of Monsanto to undermine and discredit researchers and professors who challenged the safety of glyphosate. Aggressive internet campaigns to anonymously attack respected scientists and their work, pressuring journal editors to recall already peer-reviewed articles which question glysophate’s safety, were tracked to Monsanto-paid PR firms. Flaks hired by the company posed as qualified scientists to undermine the reputations and results of eminent researchers with phony data (see story in this issue by Carey Gillam).
All these lies and deceits were authored in the pursuit of corporate profit at the expense of the innocent. We hope this issue of The Natural Farmer can serve to correct these falsehoods somewhat. Read within what experts think about glyphosate, what Monsanto has done to obscure these criticisms, and what users of the product have experienced when they have bought and used it. Learn also about real alternatives to what has become the most popular toxic chemical in the world.
We hope that by the time you have finished this issue you will never again buy anything containing glyphosate, eat anything raised with it, or believe anything said about it by Monsanto. Unfortunately, in our society there is a presumption of innocence within which falsehoods can be perpetuated without challenge not only in the political arena but also in the economic one. We need to exercise due diligence against such cynical abuse of our trust. This issue is offered in that quest.